Performance to brand to building relationships at scale

The What? Why? How? of digital marketing

I help a lot of marketers that are unclear about the specific strategies that need to be employed and the order in which they need to be tried. Here I try to break down your digital marketing strategy into three distinct stages.

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These stages relate to the content that is created on your website and the strategies that are employed to promote that content.

The three stages can be summed up as : 

  1. What? – Performance 
  2. Why? – Brand 
  3. How? – Relationship 

1. What?

The most important place to start is with what you do. I have spoken about this a number of times but you always need to include a CTA so if someone is looking for the thing that you are offering; you are then able to give it to them.


Once you have clearly identified what it is that you do you are in a position to win new business using performance marketing. If you clearly state what you do you are able to use PPC and retargeted display and social media advertising to sell your products/services.


PPC for certain industries can be expensive so might require flexibility and an open mind in the processes used in order to maximise conversions from the campaign. Can also become very competitive on cost. If you are just saying what you do, it is hard to differentiate from everyone else with similar service offerings who are probably speaking about what they do as well.

2. Why?

Saying why you do things is the best way to differentiate yourself from your competitors. This comes after “What?”. First off you do have to satisfy the need of the customer. Secondly you need to make them feel good about the decision that they have made. The way that the consumer can be made to feel good about a purchase can be because they know that they are helping a small business through their purchase and improving the lives of real people. It could be knowng that they have made the right decision because the company is trusted. People don’t trust companies, but they do trust brands. Creating familiarity through the design and then associating the design with the good work that the company does is all part of building your brand.


Customers that know your brand will come searching for you directly, meaning that you will have an advantage against others offering the same service without having to compete on price. Your performance activity should become less expensive as people need to view your content less as they will know your brand and what your company represents.


Putting money into brand campaigns are often hard to measure and it is difficult to gauge whether you are ultimately successful in getting your brand message out there. This means that initially a lot of it is left to intuition and your gut feeling about the way that things are going with your brand building activity. This can be a worrying period for you. Therefore it is vital to get feedback and be willing to adjust your messaging to ensure that your brand is striking the right tone with your audience.

3. How?

When creating content on people’s website I always say that “no one cares how you say that your company does things”. What they do care about is how other people say that you do things or how they say working with you made them feel or enriched their life. The “How?” part needs to be shown by advocates. This is why building relationships is so vital to your business.


Your past customers become an outbound sales team for you. This can be further incentivised by referral fees/benefits. This further enhances your brand as recommendations build trust. This can have the knock on effect of making your performance marketing activity cheaper with higher conversion rates. Review sites and social media gives you the opportunity to use word of mouth recommendations at scale.


When people are speaking about you, your company loses control of the narrative. This means that it is still really important to carry on with your brand marketing activities to give that consistent voice for your brand and to add to the recommendations that you receive.

Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

John is a data driven marketing specialist and website manager who lives in South East London. When he isn't blogging for us he manages Revenue and Marketing Operations for corporate clients.

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